How My Allotment and Guitar Helps Me Manage Stress…

It is my strong belief that human beings have not evolved enough to effectively deal with the levels of stress that we are put under in todays world. Stress is one of the most common problems that I encounter as a natural health researcher and advocate and many people aren't aware of how significant a problem it is in terms of our mental AND physical health.

Elevated cortisol and adrenaline can actually shrink your grey matter (a type of tissue in your central nervous system) and the thymus gland that helps train your T-cells (stress can paralyze the immune system). Stress can even reactivate dormant viruses.

Stress can cause atrophy of the muscles and decrease testosterone levels. It can force the body to run only on sugar by mobilizing your body proteins and converting them into sugar (even if you're not consuming any sugar). It can significantly slow down the production of stomach acid that can cause acid reflux and can hinder the pumping action of the colon that can result in constipation.

And we're only skimming the surface here. The list of ailments that can be triggered by high levels and long periods of stress is an extremely long one.

So, outside of eating a healthy diet and taking high quality supplements and herbs, is there anything else that we can do to stop the mental and physical effects that stress causes to our bodies? The answer is YES and it's just as powerful and effective as diet and supplements!

Studies have found that just 45 minutes of art making/therapy a day can significantly reduce cortisol. Just by taking time out to shift your attention onto something you love, or by taking up a new activity or hobby, can really make a substantial difference to our well-being.

I love playing the guitar in the evenings as this shifts my attention from my every day life and inspires me to engage with my creativity. Playing a musical instrument is a wonderful way of shaking off the stresses we encounter on a daily basis and is fantastic for our mental health! But it doesn't have to be playing an instrument. You could take up art therapy, creative writing or woodwork. The list of possibilities is endless!

Being in nature is hugely beneficial when experiencing stress. Long walks through the woods or just spending time in your garden raises the serotonin levels in your brain. Just breathing in the fresh air raises the oxygen levels in your brain and that will stimulate serotonin. I love being at my allotment where I can express my creative energies while exerting myself with lots of physical activity. Outdoor exercise increases the production of endorphins, another mood boosting neurotransmitter, that leave you feeling calm and clear-headed.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul,” famed naturalist John Muir wrote in 1912.

Many of us can fixate on a problem and often experience fight (aggression) or flight (fear) mode when in reality the vast majority of what we worry about never actually materializes. Engaging with problem solving rather than worrying about it is often not considered as our stress responses (fight or flight) take over. We have to try and see things with a new perspective.

Final thought: If you are regularly experiencing high levels of stress, please be aware that nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D and thiamine can help you combat stress. All three nutrients become significantly depleted when stress gets the better of us.

With Love,


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